British Prime Minister Boris Johnson lashed out at the European Union on Monday as he won initial approval for a plan to breach the Brexit treaty, saying the move was needed because the bloc had refused to take a “revolver off the table” in trade talks. Johnson won the so-called second reading parliamentary vote on the Internal Market Bill 340 to 263. A wrecking amendment was defeated shortly beforehand, though more will follow as he faces a growing rebellion in his party. The EU says Johnson’s bill would collapse trade talks and propel the United Kingdom towards a messy Brexit while former British leaders have warned that breaking the law is a step too far that undermines the country’s image. Johnson, though, said it was essential to counter “absurd” threats from Brussels including that London put up trade barriers between Britain and Northern Ireland and impose a food blockade – steps he said threatened the United Kingdom’s unity.
Boris Johnson saw off a threat to his political authority last night after former cabinet ministers attempted a parliamentary revolt against him. Senior Tories, led by the ex-chancellor Sajid Javid, defied a three-line whip and abstained on legislation that would give ministers the power to override parts of the EU withdrawal agreement. In the end the government comfortably won the vote by a majority of 77 with the support of the DUP. Among Tories who abstained was Mr Javid, along with two former attorney-generals, Geoffrey Cox and Jeremy Wright.
BORIS JOHNSON’s Brexit plan to ensure a “legal safety net” from the EU has been approved by MPs. The Internal Market Bill cleared its first Commons hurdle after MPs approved giving it a second reading by 340 votes to 263, resulting in a majority of 77. Just minutes before, Labour’s amendment to block the Bill from receiving a second reading was defeated by 349 votes to 213, with a majority of 136. After the vote result was announced, a UK Government spokesperson said: “We welcome the fact that this vital Bill has passed its second reading.
The controversial Internal Markets bill has passed its first two House of Commons hurdles this evening as the Labour bid to get it thrown out failed – despite fears over it breaking international law. Boris Johnson has said the legislation was necessary to prevent the EU taking an ‘extreme and unreasonable’ interpretation of the provisions in the Withdrawal Agreement relating to Northern Ireland. He claims some in Brussels were now threatening to block UK exports to the EU and to insist on tariffs on all goods moving to Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.
Boris Johnson has failed to quash a growing Tory revolt over plans to amend the Brexit divorce deal, as senior figures, including Sajid Javid, joined the rebels. Mr Javid, the former chancellor, said he would “regretfully” be unable to support legislation that would give the Government the power to go back on parts of the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated by Mr Johnson last year. He is one of 18 Tory MPs who have publicly opposed legislation which cleared its first Commons hurdle on Monday night, while David Cameron became the fifth former prime minister to express misgivings about it, as seen below.
The government’s decision to break international law over Brexit could have “catastrophic” consequences for Britain, gravely damaging the country’s reputation and undermining relations with allies while empowering adversaries, senior former diplomatic and security officials have warned. There is also deep concern about the seeming breakdown of relations between Downing Street and the civil service with the resignation of Jonathan Jones, the head of the government’s legal department, in protest at the government’s actions seen as the latest example of this development.
A proposed law giving Boris Johnson’s government the power to override parts of the Brexit agreement with the EU has passed its first hurdle in the Commons. MPs backed the Internal Market Bill by 340 votes to 263. Ministers say it contains vital safeguards to protect Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, if negotiations on a future trade deal break down. But critics, including a number of Tory MPs, warned it risks damaging the UK by breaching international law. Although the government has a majority of 80 in the Commons, it is braced for rebellions in the coming weeks as the legislation receives detailed scrutiny.
Boris Johnson accused Brussels of putting a “revolver on the table” last night as he fought to quell a rebellion from the government benches against a bill that ministers have admitted breaks international law. The prime minister said the EU was “threatening to carve tariff borders across our own country” and that the UK Internal Market Bill, which seeks to override aspects of the Northern Ireland protocol, was to “neutralise that threat”.
Conservative MPs fired a warning shot at Boris Johnson’s conduct of the Brexit process on Monday night, as former cabinet ministers and attorney generals withheld support for a controversial bill which will break international law. One government source said the justice secretary, Robert Buckland, was “wobbly” and had asked for additional cabinet scrutiny of a controversial clause of the bill. Among those who refused to support the bill on Monday were a slew of senior Conservatives, select committee chairs and QCs – most notably the former chancellor Sajid Javid and ex-attorney generals Sir Geoffrey Cox and Jeremy Wright.
A deal is still possible and the government’s threat to suspend key elements of the Brexit withdrawal treaty’s Northern Ireland protocol is a negotiating tactic, the Irish government said yesterday. Simon Coveney, Ireland’s foreign minister, said that the government tabled the UK Internal Market Bill to break a negotiating stalemate that was working to Britain’s disadvantage as time ran out to find a deal. “The negotiations were going in a way that was building pressure on the British government to compromise, like agree with the EU a level playing field, so we’d have fair competition,” he told Ireland’s Newstalk radio.
BORIS JOHNSON has been praised for standing up to the EU in the face of their Brexit trade deal demands. Bruges Group think tank director Robert Oulds argued the EU was not used to getting their way in the Brexit trade deal negotiations. During an interview with Express.co.uk, Mr Oulds claimed Boris Johnson had shown he would not roll over and cave to the EU. He added the current demands from the EU are too high and Britain should remain firm and not agree to them despite the threat of a no deal.
BRUSSELS is set to delay its decision on allowing City of London bankers access to European Union markets in a furious response to Boris Johnson’s Brexit Bill. The European Commission is understood to have put off a decision that would allow London-based clearing houses to handle euro transactions to the end of the month after the introduction of the Government’s UK Internal Market Bill. Top eurocrats had previously said they would grant Britain “time-limited” access to euro clearing after the end of the post-Brexit transition period to avoid major disruption to financial markets.
THE European Union is “fighting desperately like a wounded animal” to stop other countries leaving the bloc, according to Conservative MP Michael Fabricant. The Tory MP accused Brussels of “not playing by the rules” in trade talks with Britain. He added the EU fears the UK making a success of Brexit as it could spark the “collapse” of the bloc. Mr Fabricant highlighted France, Italy and Sweden as possible countries that could follow Britain out of the EU.
The EU has started locking out British travellers as Ireland and Finland become the first to adopt new quarantine thresholds. The Irish Government is expected to announce on Tuesday a new system for deciding quarantine as it ditches the “green” list of countries that it introduced at the start of the pandemic. It is expected to follow a standardised model being pushed by the European Commission under which arrivals from any country with more than 50 Covid cases per 100,000 of the population over the past 14 days and a positive test rate above three per cent could face quarantine.
Border Force is facing questions over migrants who evade their patrols in the English Channel amid concerns that the true number of crossings has been underestimated and “high harm criminals” could be arriving in the UK undetected. On Monday an overloaded dinghy carrying ten men landed on the beach at Kingsdown, Kent, in the latest wave of Channel crossings. The group of suspected migrants were heard shouting out as the vessel neared the shore, and were seen leaping out and running across the beach towards some scattered trees.
‘Rule of six’
The coronavirus ‘Rule of Six’ descended into farce today as Britons ignored the new restrictions, amid warnings that pubs could face a 9pm curfew if the level of infections keep rising. From this morning, Britons were banned from gathering in groups of more than six under new government guidelines to curb Covid infection rates – the first widespread tightening of lockdown since March. People around the country appeared to be flouting the new rules today, with pictures from Bath, Somerset this afternoon showing a group of 14 gathering in a river.
HUNDREDS of Brits flouted the new “rule of six” laws on the first day – as a police chief urged “curtain twitchers” not to call cops. Young people were pictured enjoying the sunshine in large groups across Brighton, Bristol and London – risking a £100 fine. But Ken Marsh, head of the Police Federation, warned officers will be flooded with calls after the Policing Minister encouraged Brits to snitch on neighbours who break the rule. The police chief said cops would be bombarded with hundreds of thousands of “curtain twitchers” shopping their neighbours.
People who flagrantly breach the ‘rule of six’ could end up with a criminal record, government officials claim – as Brits are urged to snitch on neighbours who don’t comply. It’s illegal from today to meet in groups of more than six in England, apart from a long list of exemptions for things like school or work. In most cases, police will disperse groups or issue £100 on-the-spot fines. But for persistent or repeat offenders, the fine can double each time up to £3,200 and you can end up in court. Tory Policing Minister Kit Malthouse today suggested people should snitch on neighbours who break the rules by ringing the non-emergency police number, 101.
PUBS could be forced to shut at 9pm if the “rule of six” fails to stop the rise in coronavirus infections. An extra ministerial meeting hastily organised for Tuesday will discuss the rising stats. A source said: “Curfew is hurtling up the agenda.” Pubs closing early was also “a tool in the armoury actively under consideration”, another added, though it was not “imminent”. The measures would anger the Treasury, which is under pressure to extend furlough for the hospitality sector.
Care home leaders have accused ministers of failing to deliver on the promise to prioritise the sector amid testing delays and fears that there could be a rush on PPE before the winter. In July the government announced that testing would be rolled out across the adult social care sector to enable screening of staff every seven days and residents every four weeks. However, industry leaders say that the failure of couriers to pick up samples in time and a backlog at testing laboratories has led to a doubling in the waiting time for results in some areas.
Thousands of home carers could receive a pay boost after a tribunal ruling on payments for travelling between appointments. Unions have long called for workers not to lose out on wages when they are driving from one patient another. An employment tribunal found contractors commissioned by Haringey Council in North London breached pay rules. The Government’s National Living Wage is £8.72 an hour, falling to £8.20 for those aged between 21 and 24, and only £6.45 for those aged 18 to 20.
NHS hospitals are cancelling operations and turning away patients amid a deepening crisis over coronavirus testing, health chiefs have warned. They said shortages of coronavirus tests are now threatening the running of services, with growing staff absences, because so many doctors and nurses are stuck at home, unable to obtain tests for themselves or their families. On Monday evening council leaders branded the failings “unacceptable” with the country’s 10 worst hotspots running out of tests.
No coronavirus tests are available in the country’s ten worst hotspots for the disease, with shortages likely to continue for weeks. Ministers are drawing up plans to restrict “frivolous demands” for tests, The Times understands, after accepting that they did not anticipate so many people applying for them. At present more than 200,000 tests are being carried out each day, but demand is much higher, with requests for tests from care homes and children returning to school being blamed for shortages around the country.
There were no tests available in any of England’s top 10 coronavirus hotspots yesterday, reports say. People in Bolton, Salford, Bradford, Blackburn, Oldham, Preston, Pendle, Rochdale, Tameside and Manchester were unable to book walk-in, drive-through or home tests, despite repeated government promises to deliver a ‘world-beating’ system, according to LBC. It comes as health leaders called on the Government to be more ‘honest’ about problems with Covid-19 testing as a senior doctor said a ‘fit for purpose’ system is needed now.
Schools in England face an autumn of paralysis due to difficulties in obtaining coronavirus tests, headteachers have warned, with education “grinding to a halt” when staff and students are forced to stay home following a suspected case. Thousands of school leaders have written to the education secretary, Gavin Williamson, warning of “partial rolling closures” of schools and disruption to pupils’ catch-up studies, because of serious staff shortages just days into the new term. Headteachers told the Guardian that staff were in some cases unable to find any test slots available for days or were offered tests at sites more than 100 miles away.
The death rate for Covid-19 could be halved by using new tests to identify the most high-risk patients, scientists say. Researchers have discovered unique blood signatures in people who contract coronavirus which they say can be used to assess whether they will suffer a mild, moderate or severe form of the illness. Researchers say the death rate from the virus could be halved following the research developments, with vulnerable people quickly prioritised at the point of diagnosis. An instant test could be available in GP clinics nationwide by spring, researchers said.
Nearly half a million patients have been waiting six weeks or more for key diagnostic tests to detect cancer, heart attacks and other serious conditions. The figures have increased 12-fold in just a year as hospitals struggle with a post-Covid backlog. Charities fear the long waits will have a devastating impact on NHS patients, particularly those who have cancer which may become untreatable. Separate data shows that the number of patients having cancer treatment is down by a quarter on the same time last year. The total has fallen by 6,647 to 21,599.
Terminally ill people have demanded action to end cruel benefit rules which make them prove they have less than six months to live. Top Tories are accused of “dragging their heels” 14 months after they pledged to reform the hated ‘six-month rule’ in July 2019. DWP minister Justin Tomlinson today confirmed the six-month rule needs to “change” and plans are being drawn up “at pace”. But two months after last pledging reform, he failed to set a deadline – and did not rule out setting a new “arbitrary” time limit such as 12 months.
Dozens of schools have either closed or sent whole year groups home after just one positive test, an analysis by The Telegraph has found. Since reopening for the new academic year, over 30 schools across the country have told at least one full cohort to stay at home or closed down altogether following one coronavirus case. Of these, 21 have sent one or more year groups home while a further seven have shut down completely following one confirmed case. An additional eight schools have had a positive test result but have managed to stay open after carrying out a deep clean and sending only a small number of pupils or staff home.
Criminals who attack emergency workers are to face up to two years in jail under sentencing reforms to be announced tomorrow. Ministers plan to double the existing 12-month maximum jail term for attacking a police officer after a summer in which dozens of officers have been injured during clashes with revellers at street parties. Tougher sentencing for violent offenders comes as the justice ministry is planning to provide in-cell computer tablets for prisoners as part of an expansion of the use of technology in jails.
The UK has failed to reach 17 out of 20 UN biodiversity targets agreed on 10 years ago, according to an analysis from conservation charity RSPB that says the gap between rhetoric and reality has resulted in a “lost decade for nature”. The UK government’s self-assessment said it failed on two-thirds of targets (14 out of 20) agreed at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Nagoya, Japan, in 2010, but the RSPB analysis suggests the reality is worse. On six of the 20 targets the UK has actually gone backwards. The government’s assessment published last year said it was not regressing on any target.
Britain is facing a ‘looming addiction crisis’ with millions turning to alcohol to cope with the pandemic, a major report warns today. The number of people drinking at ‘high risk’ levels has doubled to almost 8.5million since February, according to the Royal College of Psychiatrists. Experts fear money worries, the stresses of juggling work and childcare and the emotional fallout from the virus has left many reaching for the bottle. Thousands more sought help for addiction to painkillers during lockdown amid fears delays to NHS treatment could cause cases to rocket.